A dive into inclusive headwear



Soulcap: a British-owned company designed swim caps for curly and kinky hair. After denying athletes the right to wear caps in the Olympics, the company announced that athletes can wear their products for competitive swimming races. They initially banned the swim caps during last year’s Tokyo Olympics because the caps did not follow the natural form of the head,

Lauren Lee, News editor

The British company Soul Cap, which makes swim caps designed explicitly for Black people’s hair, announced that athletes can wear their product for competitive swimming races. Soul Cap announced the news on September 3, saying that swimming’s governing body Fédération Internationale De Natation (FINA) approved their caps designed for Black swimmers’ natural hair. The organization, recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), rippled out and affected multiple facets of the swimming world.

Last July, FINA’s decision came after initially banning the swim caps during last year’s Tokyo Olympics because they supposedly did not follow the natural form of the head; athletes participating in events never needed caps of such size and configuration in previous years. They wanted to grant athletes access to appropriate swimwear as long as it does not confer a competitive advantage

Soul Cap came about when two best friends, Michael Chapman and Toks Ahmed learned to swim as adults and began to notice that swimming caps didn’t include all hair types. They began to seek out a way to make caps that could fit on the heads of people with voluminous hair. They’ve gone on to partner with swimmer Alice Dearing, who co-founded the Black Swimming Association in 2020, and the first Black swimmer to ever represent Great Britain at the Olympics while in Tokyo. 

“I feel like it was definitely necessary but was also due for a while. I can’t imagine what people with thick long hair had to do in the struggle of using something that wasn’t designed for them nor helped them. I hope that as a black community we can keep progressing and help find different alternatives for things that aren’t made for us and make it universal,” junior Kayla Pierre Paul said.

The backlash followed shed light on the lack of diversity in swimming, a white-dominated sport in the United States and abroad. Advocates for diversity in aquatics have identified swimming as a life-saving skill rather than a sport. A 2020 study published in The International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education, links systematic exclusion from public pools with Black children ages 5 to 14 as 2.6 times as likely to die from drowning than white children.

We’re here to make swimming for everyone. It’s about feeling free, embracing the sport you love, and always pushing your true self forward. And you shouldn’t have to choose between any of them. So say goodbye to ‘one size fits all’ – and say hello to the new wave of swim. SOUL CAP is the union of sportswear and self-care, giving you the tools and style you need to train and play – with the freedom and confidence to swim your way. Swim for you,” Soul cap officials said.